Altercation Video Goes Viral
by Wes Mayer
Christopher Bryan was arrested and charged with felony obstruction early Saturday after a struggle ensued between the 33-year-old and three Newnan Police officers on the Court Square in downtown Newnan.
Warning: The following video contains graphic language.
A bystander, Daniel Freeman, captured a video of most of the incident, and the video shows the officers using their Taser stun guns and, at one point, two “open palm heel strikes” to subdue the man and place him into custody, according to a police report.
The video does not show how the altercation began.
“I’ve seen nothing in [the video] that makes me think they did anything wrong,” said Newnan Police Chief Douglas “Buster” Meadows.
Around 2:14 a.m., Officer Aaron Trusty with the police department was on patrol when he noticed a silver car parked on the North Court Square with its engine running. According to Trusty’s report, he found a male driver asleep in his car, so he attempted to wake the driver up. After a minute of trying to wake the man up, Trusty called another officer for backup.
When the man finally woke up, he did not appear to be intoxicated, just sleepy, and Trusty asked him to find another place to sleep. The driver then began to leave and the two backup officers, Officer Steven Jones and Lt. Mark Cooper, arrived. This was when Bryan, the suspect in the altercation, allegedly yelled from the Alamo, “Five [expletive] cops for a traffic stop.”
According to Trusty, Bryan continued to yell, so officers drove to West Court Square to investigate the disturbance. When they approached the Alamo, bystanders pointed to Bryan and told officers to talk to him, and when Trusty approached Bryan, he smelled a strong odor of alcohol. Bryan told Trusty he’d had six or seven beers.
Trusty then asked Bryan why he was creating a disturbance, and Bryan turned around and walked away. According to Trusty, he twice asked Bryan to not leave, but Bryan kept walking, so Trusty attempted to stop him by touching his arm.
Bryan then began to jerk away and fight, Trusty wrote in his report, so Trusty grabbed Bryan in an attempt to control him. Bryan kept trying to fight the officer, though, so Trusty performed a leg sweep and took Bryan to the ground. Officers Trusty and Jones then attempted to place Bryan in handcuffs, but Bryan continued to swing his fists around. Cooper then walked over and warned Bryan to calm down or he would use his Taser.
According to Trusty, Bryan would still not comply, so Cooper “drive stunned” Bryan with the Taser cartridge, but it was ineffective. Cooper warned Bryan again that if he did not calm down, Cooper would hit him with the Taser barbs. Bryan still did not comply, so Cooper deployed the Taser and struck Bryan in the stomach and pants area, not making good contact.
Around the time Bryan was first tased is when the bystander’s video begins.
At one point during the altercation, Bryan ripped the Taser barbs from his skin and kicked Cooper in the stomach, Trusty said. After this, Trusty attempted to perform a joint lock on Bryan’s arms, but he still fought back, so Cooper “struck Bryan in the side of the head twice with an open palm heel strike to stop the fight, because the lesser use of force did not work to control Bryan,” Trusty said.
According to Trusty, Bryan continued to resist, but officers were able to place him in handcuffs and take him into custody. He was then transported to the Coweta County Jail, and officers notified 911 to dispatch emergency medical units to the jail to make sure Bryan was uninjured. In the car, Bryan became irate, Trusty said, so he called for additional assistance from deputies at the jail.
At the jail, a nurse with the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office checked on Bryan and found he had a small cut next to his left eye, and she told officers Bryan needed to go to Piedmont Newnan Hospital to be medically cleared, Trusty said. Trusty transported Bryan to the hospital, and medical staff treated the cut and swelling around his eye – medical staff said he did not need stitches and said he was bleeding heavily due to the alcohol thinning his blood.
Bryan was returned to the jail and was booked on charges of felony obstruction of officers, misdemeanor simple battery on an officer, and misdemeanor disorderly conduct. According to jail authorities, Bryan does not have a bond set because of a violation of probation.
According to Meadows, the video is going to be reviewed by Coweta Judicial Circuit District Attorney Pete Skandalakis, and Meadows will wait to see if Skandalakis sees anything he might have missed.